.. It was one the best decisions of my life.
It was 1989, so not recently, just to be clear!
I had just arrived in London at the ripe old age of 19 with a Secretarial Certificate from TAFE (I had Failed btw) and 2 years office experience in Canberra. I knew no one in the City and was staying with a friend of my Aunt’s at the very end of the northern line, for strictly two weeks!
My intention was to get a job immediately so I could start earning money as I had just £900 to my name. Nothing like the fear of being homeless and hungry to motivate you to get a job, right?
I had heard from other travellers in the agency that EY (Ernst & Whinney at the time) was THE best place to get a job because they had a subsidised cafeteria – whoo hoo – food! I’m talking £1.50 for roast lunch!
So when my Temp Consultant offered me a 2 week assignment at EY, provided I could use a computer, I said “Yes, so long as it is IBM compatible”.
WTF? Like I knew what that meant – I didn’t – but I thought it would make me sound very proficient and perfect for the gig. I got it.
On my first day at work I sat down at a computer I had never seen before (in fact I’d only ever seen one), it turned out to be an Apple Macintosh Classic. I simply sat there staring at it not even knowing how to turn it on – seriously. Once I had embarrassingly asked another secretary how to fire up the teeny cream box I was none the wiser. Bloody Aussies.
Fortunately for me, the ‘bosses’ I was supposed to be looking after were largely out of the office and any major work went to the typing pool. #relief I was left to answering phones which was something I could manage perfectly.
I spent those two full weeks teaching myself everything I could about how to use a computer. I was determined to learn so that (a) I wouldn’t get sent home from the assignment; and (b) improve my chance of being asked back for another assignment thus improving chances of survival in a foreign country.
Two weeks later I got an ‘indefinite’ secretarial position working for a fabulous guy who was starting the EY Litigation department (something else I had to look up and learn super fast). After 12 months temping I was given a permanent role (yay) and stayed with EY for 6 years in London and then a further year in Sydney.
That first ‘lie’/opportunity, meant I had to dig so deep within myself to be courageous, resilient and ask questions, lots and lots of questions.
It was one of the steepest learning curves I’ve had. I never did get found out! In fact I became one of their Apple trainers!
That experience very early in my working life has remained with me and is a reminder that if you have courage, a strong purpose, tenacity and continue to develop, everything will work out.
So, sorry EY, but thanks x